One of the world’s foremost adventurers and advocates explores the roots and the routes of one of the world’s most famous mountain ranges.
During the summer of 2015 SCARPA athletes Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett spent two months in the Pakistani Karakoram in search of new routes in one of the world’s truly stunning ranges with one of the Karakoram’s most seasoned climbers, Steve Swenson of the American Alpine Club. The amount of planning and training that goes into an expedition in this corner of the world is massive, then everything has to line up just perfectly for the actual send. During this trip, Graham and Scott achieved two impressive first ascents including the Changi Tower (6500m) and a new route up the south face of K6 (8126m). We asked Graham to put together a short photo recap of the incredible trip.
Editor’s Note: On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and the region around Mt. Everest killing over 9,000 people including at least 19 at base camp on the Nepali side of the mountain. SCARPA athlete and college professor Raphael Slawinski was on the peak’s northern base camp in China when the quake struck attempting a new alpine-style route up the mountain’s northeast face. Though the north side of Everest was relatively unscathed, the Chinese government promptly closed the mountain for climbing, ending his groundbreaking summit attempt.
Editor’s Note: On May 19th, SCARPA athlete Dave Allfrey and his partner Cheyne Lempe summited the Great Cross Pillar on Baffin Island via their new route Deconstructing Jenga (Grade VI 5.9+, A3+, 900m) after a 10-day push. We asked Dave to explain why he searches out new routes on remote big walls.
From the first time that I walked to the base of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley I knew that big wall climbing would captivate me. Laying my hands on the granite with the wall soaring more than half a mile overhead, I fell in love with the idea of passing day after day in the wild vertical world. To this day, the thought of days or weeks on the wall makes my heart race with excitement.
Last August, SCARPA athlete Shingo Ohkawa spent month in search of first descents on the classic vertical walls of Wyoming’s spectacular Wind River Range. While he and his partners horsepacked in to base camp, it was all human-powered effort from there. Long days on approach and even longer days in a harness and climbing shoes allowed Shingo to really abuse the best SCARPA has to offer for this style of climbing. While an unseasonably wet and cold August shut them out of many of his objectives, he still came back with some glowing reviews. These are the SCARPA shoes that got him too the wall and up it, including an FA on the West Face of Helen’s Tower 1.
This winter marked the culmination of my longest project, originally The Grandpa Project, now “The Process” (V16) after a Daniel Woods FA, in the Buttermilks near Bishop, California. Though this season ended regrettably with the destruction of the crux hold rather than a send, I still learned a lot about working a project of this magnitude. Like most people, the bulk of my climbing is on things that I can do relatively quickly. Seven days is the most I’ve spent on a line that I’ve actually completed, yet I’ve been invested in The Grandpa Project for 5 years now. As I spent more and more time on this line, discovering, cleaning, and preparing the line itself, overcoming injury, hold breakage, and weather, I’ve realized that my motivations and approach needed to be much different than they would be for normal climbing.
You know winter’s running out of steam when you start dreaming of splitter cracks, perfect pockets and desert towers. That glorious red sand has a way of permeating every article of clothing and crevice of our brains– and we love it. It’s a sign of spring as much as baby bunnies and flowers. Yet if for some reason you’re hoping to switch things up this season, have a look at these other spring crags which feature cool rock and tons of route variety for your soft, pale winter body.
Doug Stoup has been pioneering ski descents along the Western Antarctic Peninsula since 2000. He’s led 15 expeditions to the peninsula and says it is by far one of the most spectacular ski destinations on the planet. One of Stoup’s biggest challenges organizing a trip like this is accommodating 120 skier’s different needs and expectations. “Most of the client’s goal is to ski Antarctica,” said Stoup. “My goal is for them to become an ambassador for the continent. The Antarctic is a place I fell in love with and it has not disappointed anyone.”
When Jason Dorais and longtime ski buddy, Lars Kjerengtroen tackled the the Grand Teton this spring, they lucked out with near perfect conditions for ski mountaineering. The snowpack they encountered while cramponing up Tepee Glacier and then to the Glencoe Couloir proved to be stable in the early morning. But as they reached the Stettner Couloir, the bright sun was causing snowmelt, increasing the chance of wet slab avalanches, so the team increased their climbing pace to reach the summit before conditions became too dangerous.
SCARPA team member and frequent climber, Scott Bennett, recently spent a few months in Spain on what he calls an “everyman’s Spanish climbing trip.” Bennett hails from Michigan but once he discovered climbing moved to Boulder, Colo. where he works part-time for SCARPA and spends the rest of his time at local climbing spots or planning his next expedition.